August 2017

August 27, 2017

Jah Works #1


This blog started off in 2011 as a way to record events in my life, past and present, and mull over them a bit as I wrote; hopefully sharing something anecdotal and maybe inspiring my readers. It has evolved since then, but lately I was reading Psalm 78 and an idea was sparked that throws back to my roots:
My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—

things we have heard and known,

things our ancestors have told us.

We will not hide them from their descendants;

we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
 They would not be like their ancestors
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
The psalm continues to tell the history of Israel, and how God showed up even when they were stubborn and doubtful -- a faithful husband to a wayward bride. When I read that first part though, the concept of recording the works of God to recount to others, particularly younger generations, struck me. What a powerful way to bolster the faith of our community and bring up the youth in the knowledge of God at the same time.

And so I decided to go through my life and recount all the times I can remember God showing up. Hopefully it will encourage you to trust God more, as I know it will strengthen my own faith to write about these experiences. As for the title of this little series, Jah Works: Katie and I had just seen a reggae band with the same name about the time this idea was brought up. They were really good, and the title is catchy, so there you go...

--

The first time I can remember experiencing the feeling of God's presence was at a Carmen concert. In case you didn't listen to Christian music in the early 90s, Carmen was pretty much the Michael Jackson of the Christian world. His music was theatrical, big picture and told epic stories. He was a white guy with curly hair and a thick jaw (so very unlike MJ in those regards), but was unafraid to rap, shout, dance, act and preach for Jesus. It was all kind of cheesy in hindsight, but in the fledgling world of 90s Christian music, and for a young kid like me, he was a big deal, and certainly impacted a lot of folks in the process, my family included.

I was in fourth grade when he put on a free concert at the North Charleston Coliseum, and so my dad took me and my friend John. On the way I tried to describe the music to John, who had never heard Carmen. I remember landing on the word "jazzy," confirming the title with my father, who probably said it was, knowing it wasn't. His music really couldn't be defined by a genre. Rock, hip hop, country, ballad, western...everything was permissible for this guy. Here is one of my favorite videos of his, for one of the songs he performed that night:


Somewhere in the middle of this concert I remember feeling God's presence in such a powerful way that I kept looking up at the ceiling, expecting to see Jesus. I honestly thought he would appear! It sounds kind of silly in hindsight, but the feeling was powerful and certainly memorable.

I'm not sure any major life change happened that night -- no decisions to follow Christ or anything like that -- maybe we gave some money away to a charity or sponsor of the event that we deemed worthy. But I do know that God has often met me in music, particularly live music, and this was the first time. So thank you Carmen, for introducing me to music that nestled itself in my psyche and ultimately lead me to a God who communicates through arena rock and cheesy music videos alike.